As we move into the new semester, many projects at the SSMU are beginning to pick up steam once more, and it is with that in mind that we wish to update the membership on our progress with our Gendered and Sexualized Violence Policy Project, and other anti-sexual violence work at the union.
Engaging with stories of sexual violence can have an impact. It can result in vicarious trauma, or trigger our own memories of sexual violence if we are survivors. We encourage you to take care of yourself as you choose how you want to engage with this statement. Listed at the end of this statement are Montreal-based resources including crisis centres, active listening services, self-care material, and 24 hour support services both on and off-campus.
Gendered and Sexualized Violence Policy
We are pleased to announce that at the end of last semester, after consultation (you can read the minutes of our Open Forum in October under “Resources – Sexual Violence” on our website) and upon the recommendation of stakeholder groups, we hired a full-time Sexual Violence Policy Project Coordinator to spearhead the anti-sexual violence work within the union itself along with two part-time advisor positions.. Their roles will be to complete a thorough research report on the anti-sexual violence work and activism that has happened on this campus, to review existence anti-violence mechanisms within the union, and to produce 1) a draft of a Gendered and Sexualized Violence Policy to be presented to student representatives at the SSMU’s Legislative Council, 2) a series of recommendations in the form of a plan for the union to implement in order to properly and effectively play its role in addressing sexual violence in our communities, and 3) run consultations throughout the Winter 2018 semester with the membership in order to inform their work. We are pleased to announce the hiring of Caitlin Salvino as the Coordinator, and Bee Khaleeli and Priya Dubé as the Project Advisors.
Within the next two months, this team will be running individual and general consultations to inform their work. They will be on Monday, February 5th, and Tuesday, February 13th. The facebook event for these consultations and the closed groups can be found here. If you would like to meet with them to discuss, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop-in to the Coordinator’s office hours from 12-2 on Tuesdays in the SSMU office. Otherwise, they will be in contact about consultations once they are scheduled.
For more information on anti-sexual violence work, resources, and initiatives, check out the new Sexual Violence resource page on the SSMU site.
If you would like to provide anonymous feedback please complete the SSMU GSVP Anonymous Feedback Form.
OurTurn Task Force
Alongside this work, the Our Turn Task Force will begin meeting this semester. On October 12th, 2017, the SSMU’s Legislative Council unanimously passed a motion to acknowledge rape culture on McGill campus, which included the mandate to strike an Our Turn Taskforce. The Taskforce is named in reference to the Our Turn report, which SSMU published on October 11th, 2017.
The Taskforce will provide a space for faculties to coordinate and brainstorm on what student-led action must be taken to shift culture on campus from a rape culture – which we acknowledge to being one of the root causes of sexual violence on campuses – to a culture of consent through prevention, support, and advocacy programs. The thought behind the membership makeup of the taskforce is that although SSMU plays a role, it is not the right body to be leading a movement against rape culture, and that the most effective level for these conversations to be happening is at the faculty-level, with input from community groups and campus groups who have an established history of working to end rape culture on our campus. At the same time, it strengthens the student-led advocacy networks that exist on campus. This is an integral part of our plan to take meaningful steps to eliminate sexual violence in our communities and support survivors on our campus. It is up to us, the students, to fix this pervasive issue in our communities! For more information on the Our Turn Taskforce, please email email@example.com.
The first meeting will be at 7pm Tuesday January 30th in Rm 420 of the SSMU building. All those interested are welcome!
Lastly, we wish to address the passing of Bill 151 by the provincial government on December 7th. This bill mandates all higher education institutions in Québec to create sexual violence policies, and we encourage our members to read the bill thoroughly to see the commitment that the government is making and to hold them accountable to these goals. The SSMU has been following this bill since the consultations began last year, most recently traveling with the Association for the Voice of Education in Québec (AVEQ) and Our Turn to the National Assembly in order to address the Commission on Culture and Education, and then co-writing an open letter after being disappointed that only a few revisions were made after those consultations. In this letter, we called for there to be an addition of minimum standards for policies whose creation are to be mandated by this bill, and that there be the establishment of an oversight body to hold schools accountable to their policies and the bill en large. Now, we will be preparing, with other groups, recommendations on what is to go with the guide that is to accompany the bill. For more information on Bill 151 or for any questions, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
These are only some of the many anti-sexual violence initiatives that are happening on campus, and we at SSMU wish to extend our solidarity to all those doing anti-violence work on this campus. It is not an easy task, and one that the SSMU hopes to better participate in in the future.
Muna Tojiboeva, President
Jemark Earle, Vice-President (Student Life)
Maya Koparkar, Vice-President (Internal Affairs)
Isabelle Oke, Vice-President (University Affairs)
Connor Spencer, Vice-President (External Affairs)
Esteban Herpin, Vice President (Finance)
Thinking about your experience of sexualized/gendered violence might be difficult, and it might feel retraumatizing. That is a perfectly natural response, and you don’t have to be alone. Here is a non-exhaustive list of Montreal-based resources which offer a variety of supports:
- SACOMSS: The Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society is a volunteer-run organization committed to supporting survivors of sexual assault and their allies through direct support, advocacy, and outreach. Their services include Drop-In and Line (DIAL), Support Groups, Advocacy, and Outreach.
- McGill Peer Support Centre: The Peer Support Centre offers free, non-judgemental peer support, and can help direct you toward other available resources.
- Office for Sexual Violence, Response, Support, and Education: Resource run through the Office of the Dean of Students; for active listening as well as for addressing complaints and facilitating disciplinary action. They have trained Sexual Assault Respondents available on campus.
- The Montréal Sexual Assault Centre: Offers a range of free services to anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse, incest, as well as survivors’ family and friends. Services include medical, legal and/or individual therapy for 18+; listening, support and referral for all ages; and a toll-free 24/7 helpline for all. 1-800-933-9007 ; 514-934-4504
- Tel-Aide: Offers 24/7 free, anonymous, non-judgmental listening centre for people in distress in both English and French. 514-935-1101.
- Nightline: A peer resource offering a confidential, anonymous and non-judgemental listening, run by McGill students. Services include active listening, resource referrals and crisis management. 514-398-6246.